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January 13, 2012

The TV and Display Madness from CES 2012

Walking around the show madness at CES -- 2012 International CES, as the Consumer Electronics Association insists upon calling the show -- it's more interesting to notice what is not being hyped this year along with what is. Certainly, the stocks for 3D and Skype on TV are way down and "smart TVs" are getting a second round of hype. Perhaps the best long-term bet is watching OLED -- the 55-inch sets from LG and Samsung (News - Alert) are smoking hot, but smoking expensive at a guesstimate list price of $8,000 when they finally get to market.

Last year, consumer 3D TVs were all the hype, but this year seems to be more about companies quietly squabbling over the best approach to deliver 3D TV into living rooms with active glasses, passive glasses, or no glasses. It makes the ’80s era battle of VHS vs. Betamax look remarkably quaint in comparison.

Similarly, there was a great amount of rah-rah for embedding Skype into TV sets and Blu-Ray players, adding on to momentum dating back to 2010 when the video software first showed upon Panasonic's (News - Alert) high-end Viera TV and was to appear on LG sets by mid-2010. Visit Skype's list of TVs today and there are three manufacturers with a total of nine sets -- and no LG.  

At CES 2012, Samsung and telyHD rolled out add-on camera kits to turn your flat screen into a Skype client, but that's about it. The telyHD device is getting a lot of well-earned press, running Android and incorporating a wide-angle camera with 720p capability, four noise-cancelling microphones, a NVIDIA (News - Alert) Tegra 2 dual-core ARM at 1 GHz, a USB port, SD card reader, Ethernet port, HDMI, and built-in WiFi -- all for $249 with a remote. With all that power, it wouldn't surprise me if telyHD ended up evolving into more than just Skype.

"Smart TVs" were all the rage this week, with LG and Samsung showcasing voice and motion-control interfaces, but the word "smart" is just plain outwearing its welcome. The real story is Android and Google (News - Alert) TV continuing to plug its way into TV hardware despite Google's initial belly-flop into the space. Also worth watching is LG's announcement that it is getting into the ARM business, making its own quad-core chips to drop into a pair of high-end TV sets being delivered later in 2012.

OLED (Organic LED) represents a Holy Grail of sorts for displays. You get better display quality, thinner hardware -- the LG 55EM9600 TV demoed this week is 4 millimeters thick! -- faster response time, lighter weight and lower power consumption over existing LCD technology.  Everyone is drooling over the 55-inch sets from LG and Samsung, but today's $8,000 price tag will be a deterrent. 

However, the LG/Samsung releases should be considered a harbinger of future possibilities. Large scale production and price competition should drive the price of the big screen OLEDs downward over the next three years -- but more importantly, opening the door for OLED-incorporating ultrabooks, tablets, and desktop displays. An iPad 5 sporting an OLED will have a sharper, faster display, and be lighter weight than this year's iPad 2.

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO East 2012, taking place Jan. 31-Feb. 3 2012, in Miami, FL. ITEXPO (News - Alert) offers an educational program to help corporate decision makers select the right IP-based voice, video, fax and unified communications solutions to improve their operations. It's also where service providers learn how to profitably roll out the services their subscribers are clamoring for – and where resellers can learn about new growth opportunities. To register, click here.

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Doug Mohney is a contributing editor for TMCnet and a 20-year veteran of the ICT space. To read more of his articles, please visit columnist page.

Edited by Tammy Wolf

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